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A nutty idea in New York

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“The difference between an illegal alien and an immigrant is the difference between a burglar and a houseguest,” stated Michael W. Cutler during his recent testimony before a New York State hearing concerning Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to provide driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

Cutler testified on behalf of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C.-based organization that analyzes the impact of immigration on the nation. His statement contrasting illegal aliens with legal immigrants strikes to the heart of not only Spitzer’s proposal, but the whole immigration debate now swirling in America.

While our immigration laws may need some measure of reform, the real problem is enforcement of the laws against individuals who continue to enter America illegally.

One of America’s fundamental principles is that we are a nation of laws and function according to the rule of law. In its most basic understanding, the rule of law is the principle that no one is above the law.

It seems to me that we have legislators and members of the media who do not understand the concepts of “illegal” or “rule of law.” Either that or they are purposely trying to blur the discussion in favor of those who desire to enter our nation illegally.

I have drawn my aforementioned conclusion based on observation. I have heard too many of our lawmakers and/or media talking heads justify the presence of illegal aliens by saying, “We are a nation of immigrants.” Whenever I hear this I usually scream at the radio or TV, “Yes, we are, legal ones.”

Like too many of our nation’s lawmakers, Gov. Spitzer either is ignorant of the “rule of law” or he simply has no problem with those who have crossed the border illegally obtaining driver’s licenses. His proposal not only rewards those who have willfully broken American law, but it also undermines the rule of law by creating a class of people who can get around the law.

Spitzer’s proposal subverts the rule of law. Why should any person contemplating immigration to America do so legally? After all, all they have to do is make it to New York and they can obtain a driver’s license legally, which will legitimize their presence in the country.

“In so many ways,” Cutler told the New York Senate hearing, “the driver’s license is the platinum card that opens so many doors.”

He said that it serves as a de facto national identity card that allows citizens to function freely in the United States and makes available a full range of privileges, including the ability to vote.

Spitzer’s driver’s license proposal ignores the reality that a significant number of people break our immigration laws because, for various reasons, they do not qualify to enter legally. They may have communicable illnesses or criminal records in their home countries, both of which would disqualify them from entering the United States. A fundamental function of government, state or federal, is the protection of its citizens. It seems that Spitzer is willing to put driver’s licenses for illegal aliens ahead of the safety of not just New Yorkers, but all Americans.

Some argue that America’s immigration laws are too complicated and compliance simply takes too much time. As a result, like Spitzer, some are willing to make allowances to those who are in the United States illegally.

But no one has the right to break a law because it is complicated or inconvenient. I would suggest that the U.S. tax code is a bit on the complicated side and compliance takes time. However, violators of the U.S. tax laws pay the penalty. The same should apply to those in our country illegally.

By giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, people that are willfully breaking our immigration laws, Governor Spitzer is not only rewarding criminal behavior but he is also undermining the rule of law.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each week in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, the newspaper of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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